Devices that Lower Your Energy Bill
Devices that Lower Your Energy Bill

by Jeremy Cleland

When Leo Bley’s family was remodeling their new home in San Jose, Calif., the father of two wasn’t just picking out new fixtures and paint colors — he was thinking about how to make his home energy efficient by using smart devices.

Smart devices are gadgets or appliances connected via the Internet and controlled by you through your mobile devices. Bley decided to install the popular, energy saving Nest Thermostat throughout his home, along with Nest Protect, the company’s smoke and Carbon monoxide detectors.

He also uses ‘Works with Nest,’ a program that connects Nest to other devices, working as a “smart” remote control. “While the energy savings generated by the Nest — automatically turning off the HVAC when we were away — was our original motivation to buy, we now realize the secondary benefits,” he said. “Nest instructs the kids with words to leave the house when the smoke detector goes off, we can check the app to see if someone is home, or Nest integrates with a ceiling fan to reduce the AC when we are in the room.”

Here are some of the best smart devices you can use to make your home energy efficient, too:

Nest Thermostat

Cost: $249

How it lowers your energy bill: 

Nest thermostat is a smart device that learns and programs itself based on behaviors in the home. It takes just one week to learn your desired temperatures at various times of the day and creates a customized schedule of when to heat, cool, or turn off completely. Just one degree in temperature reduction in the home can reduce energy consumption up to 5%. Nest’s mobile app also allows users to view energy history, schedule, and override auto settings.

Cool feature: 

The Auto-Away feature automatically detects when residents are out of the house (through smart sensors and algorithms) to turn off energy consumption. This same feature also learns the time you generally arrive home to start heating or cooling the house, as well.

Phillips Hue Connected Bulb

Cost: $199 for Starter Pack

How it lowers your energy bill: 

Phillip’s Hue bulbs allow for wireless control of your lighting using highly-efficient and long-lasting LED lighting technology to reduce energy consumption by 80%. The Hue app or website portal allows users to tune, dim, or control lighting from anywhere in the world.

Cool feature: 

Use the timing feature to wake you up in the morning — replicating a gradual sunrise — or set the mood in a specific room based on the light and colors in your favorite photo.

Rachio Iro Smart Sprinkler

Cost: $249 for 8 Zone Iro; $299 for 16 Zone Iro

How it lowers your energy bill: 

The Rachio Iro system provides up to 30% reduction in water consumption over standard sprinkler controllers. Using its Smart Weather feature — which you can monitor via an app — it automatically adjusts watering amount to the season or weather.

Cool feature: 

Rachio will send you alerts and tips to reduce water consumption and the device is EPA WaterSense certified, which allows for up to a 50% rebate by some water municipalities. It can also work directly with Nest Protect to automatically turn on sprinkler zones in case of a fire, reducing the chances the fire will spread to neighboring properties and dry landscapes.

Iris by Lowe’s

Cost: Starting at $179

How it lowers your energy bill:

Iris lets you manage your home from any online device. You can monitor, adjust, and control smart devices ranging from thermostats to lighting, in-wall electrical outlets, irrigation control, leak detectors, and water shut-off valves.

Cool feature: 

Iris lets you remotely control electrical outlets — what it calls “smart plugs” — reducing parasitic energy drain of plugged-in devices such as TVs or kitchen appliances.


Cost: Free

How it lowers your energy bill: 

Formerly “If This Then That”, this app allows you to create a personalized DO Button to direct smart devices to perform customized tasks, which can add up to energy savings. For example, you can create a DO Button on your mobile phone to always keep your smart thermostat at a cool 60 degrees.

Cool feature: 

IF also allows you to create what it calls “recipes” for your smart devices. For instance, you can create a recipe that if you’re five miles from home, then your Nest-connect ceiling fan turns on. Better yet, set a recipe that if it’s 10 minutes before sunset, then your Hue lights turn on to create extra security and safety without wasting energy throughout the day.

Jeremy Cleland has been a spokesperson for several Silicon Valley startups, like Tesla Motors, and spearheaded global stories about technology featured in media like Vice, Time magazine, Forbes and He’s also the dad to a 5-year-old who is already more tech-savvy than him.

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